200,000 Vote in 30-minute Online Super Bowl Ad Poll


CBS/AOL Streaming Commercials Viewed 4.6 Million Times in TV/Internet Tie-in


By Rich Thomaselli

DETROIT (AdAge.com) — More than 200,000 TV viewers turned to their computers to cast a vote in Saturday night’s CBS/America Online Web poll to select Coca-Cola Co.’s “Mean Joe Greene” as the greatest Super Bowl commercial of all time.

The real-time balloting that occurred during a pre-game special was further evidence of the utility and power of the Internet to instantly connect TV broadcasters and their sponsors with the passions and actions of individual viewers.

Live TV

The live TV special, Super Bowl’s Greatest Commercials, counted down the top 10 ads until it reached the final three, and viewers were then asked to go to AOL.com or CBS.com to vote. The program aired on Viacom’s CBS, which also hosted Sunday’s Super Bowl XXVIII, in which the New England Patriots defeated the Carolina Panthers.

4.6 million video views

More than 200,000 viewers logged on in 30 minutes to cast their votes. Throughout the promotion, which began with print ads in USA Today, the online ads were viewed more than 4.6 million times. This was the third such Super Bowl commercial special to run in the last four years, all on CBS, but the first to utilize a live voter component.

“You can thank [News Corp.’s] Fox for that,” coordinating producer Bob Horowitz told AdAge.com. “Along came American Idol and it got us thinking how we could take a page from that. We decided to let the commercials run and let America be the judge.”

The special was popular with viewers, scoring a 6.9 rating and an 11 share in the Nielsen ratings, to win its 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. time slot by beating a movie on ABC, Law & Order on NBC and America’s Most Wanted on Fox.

Steelers star

“Mean Joe Greene,” in which the Pittsburgh Steelers football star famously tosses his jersey to a young fan, was voted the best Super Bowl commercial of all time. The other finalists were a 1993 McDonald’s Corp. ad featuring Michael Jordan and Larry Bird and last year’s Budweiser commercial showing the Clydesdale horses waiting for a zebra to review a football play.

The Coca-Cola spot with Mr. Greene is now 25 years old. Made in 1979 by McCann-Erickson, New York, the commercial aired on the 1980 Super Bowl. It shows a limping Mr. Greene walking down the tunnel of a stadium. A young boy follows and offers the hulking football player, known for being mean-spirited, his Coca-Cola. The player at first declines, but later relents. After downing the Coke in one gulp — Mr. Greene reportedly downed 15 to 20 such bottles during the shoot — he says, “Hey kid. Catch,” and throws the boy his game-worn No. 75 jersey.

The McDonald’s spot, known as “Nothing but Net,” finished third in the voting and was from Leo Burnett USA, Chicago. Mr. Jordan and Mr. Bird are shown in a spirited game of matching each other basket-for-basket for the rights to a Big Mac. As the game progresses, the degree of difficulty becomes humorous. At one point, the two players are the top of an arena and Mr. Bird says, “Over the rafter, off the scoreboard, nothing but net.”


Last year’s Bud spot was from Hill Holliday Connors Cosmopulous, Boston. Previous spots had shown the famous Clydesdales playing football. This time, the horses are standing around as a zebra looks into a camera that shows instant replay. Two fans are sitting in the stands and one says, “This zebra is a real jackass,” a playful riff on how long it often takes National Football League referees — sometimes known as “zebras” — to look at instant replays.